Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Writers: Jaume Balagueró, Luiso Berdejo
Actors: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano
Last film of the month of July for the first ever OWF weekly movie club. To be honest I'm glad this month is over since I am not that fond of horror films. However, I am glad that at least the final film was an actual horror movie unlike Audition. So without further ado, let's get right on to the review of [REC].
So I don't think this review will go very long as this film is very straightforward. The film opts to try the method of horror which implements a hand held camera going through the events. Usually this is done in order to bring the viewer closer to the actual horror and to make the fear even greater. I have seen a couple of films which tried to implement this style such as the very popular Cloverfield. However, I was never impressed by any of them and I was not able to see the appeal in this style of horror. With [REC], even though it did a good job with this style, it still did not convince me that this style of horror is capable of innovation and being fresh. As I said, I feel like [REC] is one of the better films which I have seen use the style of camera work in horror films. The camera isn't disorienting and you are generally aware of what is happening at most times. Unlike for example Cloverfield where all I could see was blurs from the characters running. So overall I appreciated the way that [REC] took on this style of horror film. Furthermore, the way the film is set adds to the effectiveness of this style. Since the whole film is shot in this one building, the audience is able to know key areas of the place. The whole film kind of reminded me of how horror video games are constructed. Especially games which force you to back track. For example, when they handcuffed the woman to the stairs and left for another area. Then after 10 minutes they had to go back and pass her. Obviously she would now turn into a zombie so that the film continues to build up in suspense. This is just a small example but you can see what I mean when I talked about the correlation of video game design and the structure of this film.
Now I want to talk about the actual horror of the film. Given it is a horror film, it's job is to try and scare the viewers. Well the film succeeded at times to actually scare me. The final scene with the deformed zombie was really creepy. They really did a great job at making her disgusting. Furthermore, the first couple of scares when it came to the old lady was also frightening. However, one of my biggest gripes with this film is that many of the jump scares you could see coming from a mile away. Apart from a few, most of the jump scares I expected and had basically no affect on me. Which is a shame because I feel like they were able to have genuinely frightening moments if not for the predictability of them.
Finally I want to talk about some of the negatives of this film. For one, I felt like the middle part of this film really killed the tension and suspense. The pacing was way off with this section of the film and it really ruined all the work the first half did to put you at the edge of your seat. I would've liked if there was a constant build up of tension, or at least spikes here or there. However, what we got was a very sudden drop in tension and it stayed there for nearly 20 minutes. And with the film being only 75 minutes long, having 20 minutes be dull is not what you want in a horror film. Other than that, there is the obvious annoyance of characters in horror films acting really stupidly and illogically. I understand that when you are really scared you can't think straight. But there are stuff that the characters did that no human would ever do in that situation. Like the man with the mustache walking near the glass door which houses a zombie in it just to have a conversation there. Only to get bitten due to his stupidity in placement. This is just one example but there were many that happened throughout the film and I really don't understand why we can't have horror films where the characters don't act like idiots. Finally, I really did not like the final shot and ending. The way that the camera was perfectly placed for the shot and how the woman got dragged into the darkness felt really forced and cheesy. Personally, it did not fit well with what happened with the film overall.
All in all, if you enjoy horror films I think that [REC] is a film that could impress certain people. Especially those such as myself who never really appreciated the style of handheld cameras in horror films. The way the film was structured along with the "final zombie" really disturbed me and the film managed to actually scare me at points. However, the dull middle portion of the film along with the dumb characters might hurt the film for some people. You be the judge, let me know what you think of the film in the comments below.